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Tennessee court overrules adoption decision, lets couple sue Methodists

The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Aug. 24 reversed the decision of a three-judge panel that had ruled that a Jewish couple lacked standing to contest a 2020 state law. The law allows state-funded private adoption agencies to exclude would-be-parents based on the agencies’ “religious or moral convictions or policies.”

Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram, of Knox County, Tenn., can now sue Holston United Methodist Home for Children for excluding them as adoptive parents based on their Jewish faith.

“Liz and Gabe Rutan-Ram suffered outrageous discrimination because they are Jewish,” stated Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“This loving couple wanted to help a child in need, only to be told that they couldn’t get services from a taxpayer-funded agency because they’re the wrong religion,” she added. “Liz and Gabe deserve their day in court, and Americans United intends to see that they get it. Religious freedom must never be a license to harm others.”

The 2020 law has also been criticized for allowing state-funded adoption agencies to exclude LGBT adoptive parents.

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